Let Our Little Girls Be Little: A Commentary on Why Girls Are Growing up Too Fast

How to handle this critical time in your little girl’s life

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Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

This is a subject that is close to my heart. I grew up in an environment where I was not only allowed to be a little girl, but I was encouraged to stay little for as long as possible.

Girls today look way older than they actually are. They are also getting their periods younger as well. Growing up is on a fast track, just like everything else in our world.

But these are our children, and they should be allowed to be little for as long as possible. They shouldn't be rushed to be anything other than kids.

Why Are Little Girls Growing up So Fast?

Remember that little girl who went viral ranting about needing a coffee? She was sassy as hell and it wasn’t cute. However, millions of people called her a “mood” and proceeded to share her videos thousands of times. It was apparent that her mother was coaching her to act for the camera, poor kid.

Bad attitudes in children should not be praised or rewarded, but some people still give accolades for bratty behavior. They also praise little girls for looking and acting way older than they are.

So why does this happen? Girls like to play dress up but there’s a difference between slapping on cheap play makeup with plastic heels verses spending an hour applying perfect makeup and walking around in crop tops.

Technology

I think technology has a major part to play in little girls growing up too fast. The current YouTubers that little girls are watching are…very strange. My toddler loved one named Diana.

Diana is a 4-year-old Russian YouTube sensation. Her, her brother Roma, and her dad make videos showing the kids playing, but they don’t really play like normal children.

They are millionaires for one. In many videos, Diana has a new fancy bed, shaped like a unicorn, a pink car, etc. She is also hyper-focused on her looks. There’s even a video called “Diana wants to be Slim, Exercises and Eats Healthy Food”.

I tried to comment on this video, but they had the comments turned off (of course). I was shocked by the title and the content of the video. Diana wears a sports bra and bicycle shorts and works out as an adult woman would.

Just so you know, Diana is a tiny, petite little girl. Regardless of her size, she’s still a little girl who should be allowed to be a child.

What kind of message does this send to a child who isn’t tiny like Diana? This type of content would definitely plant seeds of insecurity in a young girl. Willow is no longer allowed to watch Diana. She watches other YouTubers that actually act like children.

Environment

When we see children growing up too fast, the answer to why is often right in front of us: Their home environment. Somethings can't be helped and aren’t bad things, like older sisters to look up to, or the younger child sharing a room with the older one.

Other things be helped. Like the stores we allow our girls to shop at. There was this clothing store in our mall called “Justice”. My stepdaughter loved it but we didn’t, I actually wanted to pop champagne when I found out it was closing due to its financial loss from COVID-19.

This store, sigh. It is a bright, sparkly, gaudy place. Just the type of store any little girl would be amazed by. Some of the clothing was ok, like the t-shirts and leggings. Others were weird, they mimicked the clothing of older women, crop tops, high-waisted pants, and sequined dresses.

This store was a “no” for my husband and I, but we couldn’t prevent my step-daughter from shopping there because other family members would bring her there.

However, we have more of a say with Willow’s upbringing then we ever did with Charlotte’s, and these types of stores will be avoided until Willow is much older.

I was on Instagram Halloween night, and I am a Cardi B fan, so I have her on Instagram. In her Instagram stories, she posted photos of her fans dressing up as her for Halloween. Some of these “fans” were little girls as young as 3-years-old, dressing up as the raunchy rapper.

Now, I love me some Cardi, but do I want my little girl to look or act like her in any way, shape, or form? That’s a big nope.

Forcing your kids to perform for social media is wrong to begin with, but to force them to emulate a woman who raps about sex and wears nipple tassels is such an unhealthy act, I “literally can’t even with this”.

I highly doubt these toddlers are Cardi fans. If they like the music, it’s because of the catchy beats, toddlers love to dance to anything that has a good rhythm.

But to say they want to be Cardi for Halloween? I imagine this was either suggested or forced by an adult in their lives. More than likely, it was one of their parents. Why? So Cardi would share their picture.

Technology and the connectivity to celebrities and influencers definitely has an impact on how fast children grow up. Sometimes it’s the child themselves doing the growing up and other times, it’s the adults in their lives making them emulate adults.

Consumerism

In March 2011, the clothing store Abercrombie Kids, marketed a push-up bikini top for young girls. I’ll let that sink in for a minute.

There’s so much wrong with this, I don’t know where to begin. Why would a child need a push-up “anything”? A push-up bra is bad but at least it’s hidden under a shirt, but a bikini top, with push-up for the world to see..Who would let their little girl wear that?

For some ridiculous reason, my stepdaughter was allowed to wear a bra at the age of eight. Admittedly, we threw them out when she came to our house wearing one.

No child needs a bra. If she was developing breasts, that would be a different story, but she had nothing there. In my opinion, it was gross. When she reached the time when a little sports bra was needed, we let her wear one at our house.

Each year, it becomes harder and harder to find age-appropriate clothing for little girls. The clothing becomes flashier and smaller. I don’t know if it’s for shock value or just plain supply-and-demand.

So if we go back to infancy, I have even noticed the baby clothes are more grown up. No, babies aren’t in crop tops or hot pants, but they are being dressed up like women in some cases. Gone are onesies, and here to stay are full on outfits that match the mother’s style.

Don’t get me wrong, we have so much fun with fashion, but there’s a line between what is right for a child and what is right for an adult. And this is a line that is commonly ignored by fashion retailers.

Biology

One of my best friend’s little girls got her period at 10-years-old. I was living with them at the time and the little girl was still playing with dolls when she started menstruating. I felt so bad for her and her mother. She adjusted but she did grow up very fast after that, naturally.

The average age that girls get their period is 12-years-old but it can happen anywhere from 10 to 15 years-of-age.

There are many theories about why girls are getting their periods earlier. Some people believe its the preservatives in the food we eat: They believe that the hormones injected into our meat is making its way into our systems and causing hormonal changes.

Another theory is that sewer water is not being filtered properly and the hormones secreted in urine is making its way into our drinking water. I thought this one was interesting, but I’m not sure if it’s a probable theory.

Some people believe attachment is an issue, that girls who don’t get enough emotional support at home, menstruate earlier as an opportunistic mating ritual. My friend whose daughter got her period at 10 was definitely not neglectful in any way, so in her case, I don’t think this is the cause.

Either way, when a girl gets their period, it’s hard to stop them from exploring their womanhood and starting the journey to becoming a woman. This can be difficult for the parent too: We want them to grow up, but not as fast as they are.

How can we encourage a healthy trajectory of growing up for our little girls?

There are a few things we can do to ensure that the children in our lives don’t succumb to the pressures of society to grow up too fast.

  • Be mindful of picking out clothing for your little girl. If she wants to wear something inappropriate, don’t just say no. Allow her to tell you why she likes it, and then explain why it is not appropriate for her age.
  • Use her argument of why she likes the inappropriate garb to suggest something else similar, but more appropriate. For example, if she likes a low-cut top because it’s sparkly, find one that is glittery but not low-cut.
  • Put parental controls on all of your video streaming services so your child cannot watch television shows or music videos that are inappropriate for her.
  • Limit screen time and be sure to check their phone and tablet’s browsing histories.
  • Allow your children to chat with their friends via Messenger Kids, where every friend added goes through your Facebook account.
  • Know where your kids are going to after school. Some parents are more “relaxed” than others and it’s up to you to decide if their home is a suitable environment for your little one.
  • Encourage a healthy body image and compliment your child on their intelligence and skills instead of their looks.
  • Makeup is not necessary for children. If your child insists on wearing makeup in a serious way (not just playing), find out why.
  • If you little one is playing with makeup, this is normal. Be sure to stress that she is beautiful without it and that this is only for playtime.

The best thing you can do for your little girl is to accept how you look. When they see you love yourself, they will love themselves too and be more likely to grow up at a steady pace with a healthy self-esteem.

If you think little ones don’t notice your insecurities, you’re wrong. I straightened my hair one day and the next day, my toddler was pulling at her own hair with a brush. She was mimicking me and even had an annoyed look on her face like I do when I deal with my curly hair.

Be aware, don’t be afraid to be strict, but learn to adapt to your child’s personal style as well. This is what makes them an individual.

Written by

Wife, mother, and researcher of a myriad of subjects. I love to write about anything and everything! Writer for The Startup, Better Marketing, & The Ascent👊

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